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Garner Research Lab
Environmental Engineering & Applied Microbiology


A person removes a cap from a pipe in the ground.

Water Quality in Distribution Systems

Drinking water quality can change substantially as it travels from the treatment plant to the tap. Our research in this area aims to better understand the bacteria present in drinking water and identify innovative ways to control their growth in drinking water infrastructure.

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Wastewater Treatment as a Barrier to the Spread of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Antibiotic resistance among bacteria is a growing concern, causing over two million infections in the U.S. each year. Our research on this topic focuses on optimizing wastewater treatment to ensure that antibiotic resistant bacteria are removed by wastewater treatment so that they cannot impact downstream communities.

Current Support: WRF 4813 - Critical Evaluation and Assessment of Health and Environmental Risks from Antibiotic Resistance in Reuse and Wastewater Applications (PI: Kerry Hamilton; Co-PIs: Amy Pruden, Nicholas Ashbolt, Emily Garner, Gertjan Medema)

A petri dish is covered in bacterial growth.

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Surface Water Quality: Sources and Downstream Impacts of Pathogens and Fecal Pollution 

Pathogens and fecal pollution can enter waterways as a result of a variety of human and agricultural activities. We use molecular and culture-based methods to identify sources of fecal pollution in waterways and track their impacts downstream.

Current Support: USGS 104b / West Virginia Water Research Institute: Addressing Challenges in Monitoring Fecal Coliforms and E. coli in Watersheds Impacted by Acid Mine Drainage

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Molecular Epidemiology and Application of Next Generation Sequencing for Characterizing Water and Wastewater

The emergence of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies is revolutionizing the use of molecular techniques (i.e. those targeting the DNA of microorganisms) for understanding complex microbial communities. NGS is poised to address key issues of importance to the water industry by bringing new understanding to various dimensions of water quality, including antibiotic resistance, pathogen occurrence, functional capacities of microbial communities, contaminant biodegradation, and virus occurrence, among many others. Our research in this area is focused on harnessing NGS technologies to better understand complicated issues related to microorganisms in water, and developing innovative ways to apply these techniques.

Current Support: WRF 4961 - The Use of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Technologies and Metagenomics Approaches to Evaluate Water and Wastewater Quality Monitoring and Treatment Technologies (PI: Amy Pruden; Co-PIs: Emily Garner, Peter Vikesland, Linsey Marr, Liqing Zhang, Lenwood S. Heath)

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